LETTER: Commendable action

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It will be very interesting to learn of the outcome of the legal challenge by Baroness Julia Cumberlege to the Secretary of State’s appeal decision to grant consent for some 60 houses in Newick in conflict with the Newick Neighbourhood Plan which has caused a local outcry plus the resignation of several parish councillors in protest.

Lewes District Council had refused the planning application, but were overridden on appeal. They felt unable to take the case to Judicial Review on advice that they were unlikely to succeed and did not have the necessary funds in any event to pursue the matter.

It is very commendable that Baroness Cumberlege has decided to take legal action to seek to overturn the Government’s decision, which will probably be a landmark outcome if she succeeds.

If not, the only recourse which would still remain to Lewes District Council as I see it would be to require the site development to provide at least 30 PER CENT of the housing to be of the “affordable” variety, ie, two or three bed houses, as against the usual developer’s preference for the more profitable four or five bed variety, which would be more in accord with the national housing shortage.

Should the legal challenge be successful, however, it would send a gale of fresh air through the corridors of Marsham Street in London where the Planning Inspectorate resides. It is rare for the Secretary of State to allow local Neighbourhood Plans to restrict “development growth”, usually regarded now as sacrosanct, but it does occasionally happen, as a recent planning appeal decision elsewhere demonstrates.

Michael Parfect

Cranedown, Lewes